Life Cycle Analysis: Wall to Wall Ceilings and the Open Plenum- PDF Full Study

The design of commercial ceiling systems is influenced by a number of factors, with a particular focus on the need to accommodate air distribution ducts and plenums, power and telecom wiring, fire & life safety systems, security systems and an increasingly complex and dense distribution of horizontal systems.  As buildings and businesses undergo more unpredictable and rapid change, systems are constantly being moved, upgraded and modified requiring greater ease of reconfiguration and flexibility than ever before.  The rate of change in office environments, or ‘churn rate’ is a function of changing technology, personal mobility, and the reconfiguration of workstations. 
These requirements for flexibility may dictate either a suspended ceiling or an open plenum.  A suspended ceiling system may provide a finished interior that allows access to systems located in the plenum space above, and an open plenum may provides a ceiling that leaves systems exposed for ease of accessibility.
The life cycle cost study, initiated by the Ceilings and Interior Systems Construction Association (CISCA), looks at the cost and performance benefits of suspended ceiling vs. open plenum designs for two building types - offices and retail food stores.  The study evaluates differences in construction and operating costs, as well as performance issues such as fire integrity, energy performance, ease of maintenance, lighting and acoustic performance, and other design considerations.

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